08 March 2013

Body Count #nlpoli

“We've now confirmed 98 layoffs across government today,” tweeted CBC provincial affairs reporter David Cochrane on Thursday afternoon.  “Working on departmental breakdown…” 

Cochrane broadcast the casualty figures for each department later:
Breakdown by department: 10 Advanced education/skills. 6 CYFS. 13 Environment. 4 Finance. 6 Fisheries. 23 Health. …7 Exec Council. 2 IBRT. 10 Justice. 9 Natural Res. 2 Tourism. 6 Transportation. 62 of 98 jobs cut were union jobs.
That’s the way it has been for the province’s political reporters since the end of February. Cochrane, NTV’s Mike Connors, and the Telegram’s James McLeod tweet on how many layoffs happened on that day, the number in each department,  how many belonged to which union and how many were non-unionised.

Outside of cabinet, a handful of Tory politicians and political staffers, and a few senior public servants, no one knows how many nights of anguish public servants in the province will endure until all the layoffs are done.

Dulce et Decorum est…

Premier Kathy Dunderdale said on Thursday that everything would be revealed when finance minister Jerome Kennedy delivers the budget at some unknown time in the future. In the House of Assembly, Dunderdale called the whole thing "normal business here in the Province, which will culminate with the Budget.”

Such is the other worldly nature of politics in Newfoundland and Labrador these days.  A forecast for successive provincial government deficit of unprecedented size,  hundreds of layoffs,  spending cuts and the premier considers this “normal”.

And apparently Dunderdale considers it normal for the government she leads to give people the axe in onesies and twosies; a few heads there, another bullet through the temple there in the name of - as she put it - “good stewardship” and of ensuring that the hard work that public servants deliver is done “efficiently and effectively.” 

Pour encourager les autres, indeed.

For full effect, the Premier took the time now that their public service is over to thank all these men and women for their hard work and sacrifice.  The Honoured Dead.  Theirs was a noble sacrifice for the good of us all.

The effect of this is not normalcy or indeed of efficiency or effectiveness either.  The way Dunderdale and her ministers are going about their budget chopping, they have created a very nasty drama that draws continued media and public attention. Because no one outside the cabinet bunker knows what is coming next, thousands of public servants are worried each day about themselves, their families and their future. That worry will take its toll on nerves as each day goes by - and the bodies pile up - until Jerome Kennedy stands up and reads his budget speech.

“… that investment is unsustainable…”

If the budget is as bad as it seems it will be, then the the people of the province will imagine Dunderdale and her ministers are a bunch of rotten, incompetent bastards.  After all, as Dunderdale herself said in the House, she has known for years that a deficit was coming:
Anybody paying attention to our budget documents in the last number of years would know that this deficit was expected, Mr. Speaker.
She’s right.  A number of people have seen it coming for years.  Dunderdale and her predecessor eventually got around to admitting, starting in 2009, that government spending was unsustainable. 

The problem for Dunderdale and her cabinet is that she admitted on Tuesday that she knew of the mess in advance.  And in effect she admitted that they chose to do nothing to get ready for it, to cushion the blow, or to ensure that we could weather the storm without a hitch.

Now the gooks are in the wire and to fight them off, we are calling down napalm on our own position.

Crispy Critters.

And if Dunderdale,  Kennedy, and the crowd running the place pull off some sort of miracle as they did in 2012, and the crisis goes away, then the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will likely think that they are rotten, lying bastards.

The Tories will comfort themselves with the lie that they are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. They’ve been saying that more and more these past couple of years.  But it is a lie, to be sure and deep in their hearts, some Tories know that they have buggered themselves royally. It is like some kind of giant payback and as Joker, Cowboy and Daddy D.A. knew, payback is a mother.

Kathy Dunderdale admitted to knowing a deficit was coming.  She has said before that the government couldn’t keep spending as they have been doing.  “[O]ur spending at the rate that we've been doing over the last eight years” said Dunderdale in 2011, “is not sustainable in the long run.” [CBC online story]

And her defence against charges of mismanagement in the House on Thursday was to talk of the billions in spending – what she had called unsustainable spending – that she and her colleagues have done over the past decade.

Finance minister Jerome Kennedy joined in the same perverse boasting:  “In 2003, we inherited a Province that was almost bankrupt: $12 billion in debt,…”.  What he did not say is that the debt today is $13 billion and that it will go another eight billion higher thanks to Muskrat Falls.  The debt may go higher still if they have to borrow to cover the deficits they knew were coming and yet did nothing about.

Oh man… the bullshit piled up so fast in the House on Thursday, you needed wings to stay above it.  Kennedy boasted of spending increases of 70% or 142% compared to governments before 2003.  All wonderful stuff.  But as everyone in the province knows, before 2003 the government did not have the money to spend like they have had lately. The money the Tories have spent came from oil, which the Tories did nothing to put in the ground.  The royalties have flowed from deals signed before 2003.

And the jobs and the economic boom that Dunderdale, Kennedy, and the rest keep talking about comes primarily from the overspending that the provincial government cannot sustain.

And there shall be plans, and rumours of plans…

Fear not. 

The Premier has a new plan, a sustainability plan, according to Kennedy. Sustainability Plan.  Sounds suspiciously like something Wade Locke would come up with: full of sound and fury, but like his assessment of Muskrat Falls, signifying sweet frig all.  He had not done the analysis.

The Prosperity Plan. 

Something Wade thought we had a decade or more to get in place.  Turns out he was way off.  Wade was way off because he didn’t do the complete assessment.  He apparently assumed commodity prices would only go up.  The only question was by how much.

Just a few hundred thousand more troops, Mr. President and then victory.

Just a few hundred million dollars more in cuts, there Kathy girl, and then prosperity, errr sustainability, errr something.

That’s the thing about these Tories.  They always talk about how they have a plan.  The Old Man always claimed he had a plan for the long-term growth and development of the province.  Hisself would raise the province up like Jesus did Lazarus. 

He promised.

He meant it because, as we know, there is no greater fraud than a promise unkept.

And so the Saviour saved.  He just never said he would create a financial mess in the process and then frig off to leave Gomer Pyle and the cast of F Troop in charge while he auctioned Hisself off to the punters so they could sit together and watch Hisself’s hockey team lose another game.

According to Kennedy, there will be a plan. 

A Sustainability Plan.

It will replace the plan to date, which has come to be known as the Unsustainability Plan.

This new plan, sez Kennedy,  is one “you will applaud because it will make sense and it will be a long-term [one].”

This one will make sense. 

Read that again.

“You will applaud because…





Unlike the other plan that made no sense given that it called for spending more than we had or raising the debt while they claimed it was going down?  And the new one will be long-term, unlike the other one that was long-term. Perhaps the difference for the second one is that you have to now drag out the “o” so that the new plan is a “loooooong-term” one. 

Try holding your mouth a little differently and see if that helps it make any more sense than destroying the village to save it.


Oh well.

On the political front,  past performance gives no confidence…

Whatever newer plan she might possibly have, Kathy Dunderdale doesn’t seem to have much support for it. 
Things are so bad these days that even die-hards like Tony Ducey, Tony the Tory of Open Line fame, doesn’t like what Kathy and the crew are doing. 

Only a couple of years ago, Tony wrote to the local papers to insist that the Tories were not in trouble, that things were not falling apart for his beloved Conservatives. 

Now Tony is fragging them.

  F1BA593E-41E5-4415-852E-71E06B30CFB4 (1)
The horror.

The horror.

Already, the horror and we have only just now started up the river.

No wonder some Tories are sitting on their helmets.